The Rise of the Mobile-Only User

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harvard business review

The Harvard Business Review blog summarizes the rise of mobile versus desktop in the article, The Rise of the Mobile-Only User.

Their conclusions and stats are no great surprise. I think we have all seen our own personal usage of mobile become more and more important in the last few years.

One of the most persistent misconceptions about mobile devices is that it’s okay if they offer only a paltry subset of the content available on the desktop. Decision-makers argue that users only need quick, task-focused tools on their mobile devices, because the desktop will always be the preferred choice for more in-depth, information-seeking research.

This was the consensus in the early days, perhaps, but now the importance of mobile is no longer overlooked. Any Website that wants to remain accessible is ‘responsive’. People are becoming more and more dependent on mobile devices.

I would guess that, for most, there is now a clear division of tasks between the mobile devices and the desktop. Social media interaction is very, very easily managed on mobile, as is email, and organization and planning. Information gathering is also quickly accomplished on a smartphone or tablet.

I think we’ll see a rise in online shopping, reservations, banking, etc via mobile as well. Amazon and a number of large chains have made this really easy. The smaller retailers are bound to follow.

The rise of smartphones means that more and more people are going online from a mobile device.According to Pew Internet, 55 percent of Americans said they’d used a mobile device to access the internet in 2012. A surprisingly large number — 31 percent — of these mobile internet users say that’s the primary way they access the web. This is a large and growing audience whose needs aren’t being met by traditional desktop experiences.

I would have guessed that more than 31% use mobile as their primary access to the web. The primary users are definitely younger, while older people may still favor desktop.

The big tasks will likely remain desktop driven. And those whose work relies on desktop will never abandon it. Writing long documents is just not possible or comfortable on mobile. But, I would not be surprised to see a marked decrease in desktop sales to parallel the rise in mobile sales in the coming years.

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The advertising dilemma

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advertising

In my next app, advertising will figure heavily since the app will be free. I think by now app users have resigned themselves to the fact that if they are getting something wonderful for nothing they can’t complain about Ads. I like the idea of Ad-free version but I’m not sure why anyone would find Ads so disruptive that they simply can’t bear to have them appear at all. So I wouldn’t offer an Ad-free version.

Now I’m debating all of the monetization possibilities and actually trying to come up with something new and very app-appropriate. This comes from the thought that, yes, advertising is really considered something negative in the user experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

So, these are the questions:

What if Ads aren’t the necessary evil? When are they an asset? What if an Ad actually enhances user experience? How can this happen?

And on the advertisers side of things, instead of them paying you to access your customer base, can an advertiser’s participation in your advertising model give you access to their existing customer base?

Any thought on this?

Eureka moments

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patent

It’s awesome when you have those Eureka moments. I love documenting, organising, making lists, categorizing, explaining in writing what the goals are, what the vehicles are, how they should work, what is expected of each. It is a great process for me because after all of that the sudden moment of clarity comes. And the concept really takes shape.

Angry Birds – What not to do

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OK, I’ll admit it, I play Angry Birds once in a while and study it a bit because it really is a fine example of a formula that works. Or rather, it was a fine example. There is nothing more annoying than paying for an app and then having ads shoved in your face. For a brief while, the marketing would pop-up in the middle of a gaming session. That was a huge mistake, and the backlash prompted a quick fix. Now, there are these annoying sidebars tempting you to buy something else from them. 
I get that if a product is not shoved under your nose you won’t find it, download it and give them more revenue than they could even dream of . . oh, wait, they’re at that point already, aren’t they? Never mind. I just wish you could turn it off, or see it only while the app loads.
 If I am really happy with an app, I do look at what else the developer has on offer. I don’t need constant ads to remind me. And what’s with the in-app purchases? Maybe instead of trying to squeeze another dime out of you they could just enhance the game with bonus features. I think they are trying to do too much. It’s like they are covering all the monetization models possible. Seriously, this is not necessary. They’ve got a good thing going.
Anyhow, they don’t need my advice. And I still look at them as a successful, if not a good model – of what to do and what NOT to do. 

Finding the right approach

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App builder

Must say, the hardest thing in app development for a non-programmer is finding a technical people or software to work with.

I’ve been through all the scenarios: paying a portion upfront and not receiving the full development. Working tirelessly with someone and getting a crap product, hoping you can pick it apart and salvage some of it.  I’ve tried ‘do it yourself kits’ and abandoned them quickly. I’ve tried working with Indians, working with Romanians, working with Americans, all with varying degrees of success and many lessons learned.

The biggest hurdle is behind me

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I have one app in the store and one in progress. The first app sells one per day which, fortunately, I find more amusing than disappointing. I only did it to test the waters and the whole app process from A-Z. I firmly believe the first pancake is not the best, especially is you are an amateur.

This next app is the bigger one. Everything I’ve learned is being tested and I’m venturing into the marketing angle in a more formal and robust way.  Learning something new has always been a challenge and a pleasure.

Perseverance

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android haystack

I am promising myself to be more committed to blogging about my daily experiences as an amateur app publisher. It’s fun and frustrating and satisfying. Sometimes it’s lonely, but I love it and hope for the day I can give up my day job and commit to app development full time.

It’s very hard balancing the paying job with the non-paying. So much effort has to go into both. If the development weren’t so personally interesting, I would have given up long ago. Thing is, I like the idea and look forward to using it myself.

Happy Holidays

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From Mashable 2011, Snowmen with mobiles.

From Mashable 2011, Snowmen with mobiles.

Color harmony in app design – Part II

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In app design, color may be even more important because the ‘screen real estate’ is so small. You have to say a lot in a small space and one of the ways you can speak to your app user is through color, so why not give it importance and choose your colors thoughtfully. At very least, you should make sure that the colors you choose do not conflict with what you are trying to say with your app.

An even greater challenge in app design is the fact that the app attention span is faster than a nanosecond. This means that any visual message, if there is one, should be stamped on your app user’s eye immediately. In your app icon and every screen of the app, the colors you choose will either work with you, or against you – and the response will be immediate.

As well as intuitive responses, we have visual associations with color. Some of these mental links are universal: red is for love and anger, green is for nature and money, yellow is for sunshine and joy and blue is for calm and spirituality.

So what is the meaning of color? The basic colors each have associations and when the basics vary in intensity, they too have subtle associations that can be different from the pure color.

The Vibrants: Red – Yellow – Orange

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Red is a very rich and emotionally intense color. It is the color of fire and blood, of danger and passion. It can be warm, vibrant, adventurous and optimistic.Red is the hottest color in the spectrum, and the one most closely associated with life.

Pink represents romance, love, passion and sensuality. It is fresh and flirtatious and the most feminine color. It denotes feminine qualities and can be very girlish unless paired with a neutral or dark color.

Yellow is vibrant and energetic and is one of the least calm colors. It is happy, spring-like and visually accessible for children. It’s associated with joy, happiness, warmth, and energy. Dull yellow can be associated with sickness and decay. Gold brings feelings of prestige, wealth and quality.

Orange is a color that is spicy and hot or unnerving and bold. It represents energy and is the ancient symbol of strength. It is only slightly less aggressive and vibrant than red and represents domination, aggression, and action. Orange is highly visible and will catch attention, which makes it a good color to highlight the most important elements of your design. It is also very effective for promoting food products and toys. Reddish-brown is associated with harvest and fall.

The Peaceful: Blue – Green – Purple

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Blue can be cold or serene, spiritual or businesslike. It is one of the most soothing, calming and fresh colors. Because it represents such a broad range of emotions, it is the most versatile and ‘safest’ color to use and actually is associated with stability, which is why it is often used in business. Blue is also often associated with cleanliness, intellect, and expertise.

Green is universally considered the color of nature. It immediately brings the image of growth, well-being and newness. It is also the color of fertility and safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money and suggests growth, hope and safety.

Purple is the most regal and elegant color and connotes magic, creativity, and luxury. It is also the most sensuous color. Light purples are feminine and calm. It is as stable as blue and as energetic as red. It symbolizes power and nobility, and conveys wealth and extravagance. Oddly, bright purple is also a very attractive color to children.

The Neutrals: Grey – Brown – Black – White

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Grey, light or dark, is sophisticated, calm and neutral. It is the color of technology and makes a business-like, no-nonsense statement. Metallic grey is cool, modern and sleek. It generally works well in a two-toned image.

Brown is a very practical, earthy color and can be dull if not used carefully. Like grey, brown is a neutral that shows stability and security. Brown suggests masculine qualities. It is a good accent color that does not give the same sharpness that black does.

Black shows drama, death and fear very well. It is a non-color that can be either sleek and sophisticated or morbid and somber. Black is associated with power and authority and is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious. In contrast, it also symbolises evil, and mystery. Black is a terrific accent color and black backgrounds contrast well with other colors and makes then come alive.

White is cool and classic, and can either be clean and simple or blank and forgettable. It is universally associated with light, innocence and purity, and is also considered to be the color of spirituality, cleanliness, simplicity and safety. White can also be a washout, confusing and can indicate lack of originality, thus, all white images should be avoided.

Angry Birds Now Appearing on a Baby Near You

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Angry Birds marketting and baby products

Even the tiniest tots can participate in the Angry Birds craze. App-maker-turned-entertainment-franchise Rovio has teamed up with baby product maker SwaddleDesigns to release an Angry Birds Baby line. New parents can now opt to outfit, wrap or protect their bundles of joy, while showing off th…

Well done Rovio but, come on, does it have to become a brand? Movies, children’s books and all that stuff. Angry birds is now the McDonald’s of apps.